The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Four Powerful Funeral Poems that Speak for the Soul | AVBOB Poetry

Four Powerful Funeral Poems that Speak for the Soul

Grief is overpowering. The news of a loved one’s passing can consume every moment – from waking in the morning to our dreams in slumber at night. Funerals themselves seem as though they come all too soon, long before any reality of the loss has been accepted. Grieving, after all, can take months or years. If you are looking to express your grief but are not yet sure about the right words, these five funeral poems may help.

  1. “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” – Mary Elizabeth Frye. This sonnet is an iambic tetrameter with an AABBCC rhyme scheme. The central message of the piece explores the poet’s belief that death is undoubtedly never the end. Spoken from the point of view of the one who has died, the poem communicates that there is no need to mourn as the presence of those who have passed on can be found anywhere. “Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.” are the final lines that truly capture the writer’s need to comfort those she has left behind.

  2. “Requiem” – Robert Louis Stevenson. Well-known for his literary works, Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson was a talented writer whose literature is still enjoyed far and wide. Requiem is a fascinating poem that was carved into Stevenson’s own gravestone. “And I laid me down with a will” and “Here lies where he longed to be” are both testaments of Stevenson’s acceptance of (and somewhat delight in) his own life and death. As far as funeral poems go, this remarkable piece makes a touching statement.

  3. “Praise Song for My Mother” – Grace Nichols. This free-verse poem is rhythmic and meant to resemble a praise song – a traditional poetic form in African arts and culture. In this poem, consisting of five stanzas, Nichols remembers her own mother’s life-giving love. The final line, “Go to your wide futures, you said” is not only her mother asking her to move on but a message that empowers Nichols to keep her mother very much alive in her own heart. The writer also perfectly expresses how a parent’s nurturing sets their child up for a better life, even after the parent has passed on.

  4. “Funeral Blues” – W.H. Auden. Written in 1936, “Funeral Blues” is one of those poems that remains relevant to this very day. The piece is narrative in nature and speaks to how any meaning in life seems to cease when someone close dies. Words such as “stop”, “cut off”, “silence”, and “pack up” are powerful, absolute instructions that tell the world its daily functioning is no longer of any use. Of course, the irony of the poem is that life does indeed go on after death.

Here at The AVBOB Poetry Project, we believe in the power of poems to echo the most profound joy, anguish, and longings of the soul. If you are seeking funeral poems or inspiration to write your own, our online poem library is filled with beautiful pieces.